"I didn't choose to study breast cancer--it chose me," writes Jane A. Plant, Ph.D., chief scientist of the British Geological Survey. Plant knows firsthand the terrifying experience of battling breast cancer that grew progressively worse five times and spread to her lymph system. She also knows the exhilaration and empowerment of defeating it.
Your Life Is in Your Hands is a detailed account of both Plant's personal story and her tenacious hunt for controllable risk factors for breast cancer. Her conclusion: dairy-product consumption is a risk factor for breast cancer (and perhaps prostate cancer), as smoking is for lung cancer. "Cow's milk is a perfect food for a rapidly growing baby calf," she writes, but "cow's milk isn't intended by nature for consumption by any species other than baby cows." Plant presents a lifestyle program to reduce your risk of cancer, including dietary, stress-reduction, and environmental suggestions.
Plant aims Your Life Is in Your Hands at a wide audience: women who want to avoid breast cancer, women with active cancer, and health professionals who want to help patients with the assistance of Plant's interpretation of a body of scientific evidence. Despite the amount of detail, Plant writes clearly, even informally, for the layperson. (She refers to her prosthesis as her "false boob.") If you feel you have to skim over the long explanations of her medical treatments, for example, you find a list of tips at the end.
Plant's ideas are controversial, but her scientific reputation is indisputable. She was awarded the Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Prize, Britain's most prestigious science honor, in 1999. --Joan Price
From Publishers Weekly
Plant, a British geochemist, claims that eliminating dairy products from her diet saved her from dying of breast cancer (which recurred five times)--and argues that readers can prevent such a diagnosis or recurrence by doing the same. Although this recommendation is based largely on her own experience, she initially discusses how she used her scientific training to discover what caused her cancer. Subsequent chapters address how cells become cancerous; the scientific link between dairy and breast cancer; Plant's dietary and lifestyle recommendations; and why the medical establishment and policy-makers have failed to look sufficiently at the role of dietary and environmental factors in cancer. Plant also includes worthwhile tips for coping with health professionals, conventional treatment (which she supports along with her recommended dietary changes) and the emotional impact of a positive diagnosis. The scientific case Plant builds against dairy products suggests this area is worthy of further study, but the evidence she presents is not substantial enough to warrant her claims. Moreover, her recommendation that women replace dairy products with soy products is also troublesome, as some studies show large amounts of soy stimulate breast cancer cells in women who have had cancer. Although Plant is no doubt sincere, the suggestion that women can "conquer" cancer by following the "Plant Program" is overly simplistic and optimistic.
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